||Prevention is better than cure, and the first step towards caring for stone flooring is expert installation. If laid properly, stone tiles will be less likely to crack, slip or become uneven; it's always best therefore to leave this job to the professionals. What's more, by employing a professional fitter to lay the stone tiles, there will be less wastage.|
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To insure your natural stone products will provide you with a lifetime of aesthetics and utility, a proper maintenance program is crucial. Natural Stone products are porous by nature and require a different maintenance program than traditional ceramic tile.
Natural stone requires a different maintenance routine than traditional, man-made ceramic tile. Many of the cleaners acceptable for use on ceramic tile can stain, damage or dull stone. Dirt and dust will scratch the surface of stone. Therefore, stone floors should be vacuumed or dust mopped frequently to remove abrasive agents from the stone surface. Natural stone should be cleaned with neutral cleaners. Stone cleaners should never contain acid or bleach. Acids, even a light solution of vinegar and water, will etch and eventually damage natural stone.
Sealing Natural Stone Tiles & Flooring
As natural stone is a porous material, it is wise to treat it with a sealant. There are many sealants available depending on the stone flooring type, texture and quality, and when properly sealed, the floor will be better protected from staining, particularly when the sealant is re-applied annually.
Having said that, sealants won't stop a natural stone floor from staining completely, so anytime a spillage occurs, it should be cleaned up as soon as possible.
It's also wise to choose your stone flooring carefully according to your needs: for example, very porous natural stone choices include marble, limestone and sandstone; slate is more water resistant, and granite is a very hard, non-porous surface, making it ideal for flooring, although it should still be sealed against staining.
Cleaning of Natural Stone Tiles & Flooring
The art of living with stone flooring and keeping it looking its best is to know how to care for it. Stone flooring should be dry mopped more often and wet mopped less often, as dry mopping will gently remove abrasive dirt which could be harmful to the floor; when wet mopping, a good quality string mop should be used, and it should be wrung out to remove excess water. Cleaners containing chemicals should not be used on stone tiles, especially those with acid in, as these will deeply stain the natural stone.
High-traffic areas may require regular polishing, and this should always be done by a professional to prevent damage. Simple changes can also be made, such as using interior and exterior mats at entrances and exits to limit the amount of grit, dirt and water brought in from the outside.
Only use cleaners specifically designed for cleaning stone. These cleaners contain no acids and are concentrated neutral pH cleaners that will not affect existing sealers or wax-type coatings. The surface of the stone should be dampened with clear water. This will keep the cleaning solution on the surface so it can be effective. A solution of the cleaner and water missed to manufacturer instructions should be applied to the stone surface with a sponge or mop. On walls, kitchen counters or vanity tops, a spray bottle can be used to apply the cleaning solution. Allow sitting for manufacturers specified amount of time (usually 3 to 5 minutes). Agitate with a sponge, synthetic mop, soft bristle brush or through the use of a floor-scrubbing machine. Mop up dirty solution and buff dry.
Once the stone has been cleaned, you can periodically apply a Spray-Buff wax-type floor finish to enhance the beauty and luster of polished stone (including countertops). Apply the finish with a spray applicator and buff immediately with a white nylon pad. Reapply as often as needed, depending on volume of surface traffic and consistency of routine maintenance program. This product is not designed to restore the original shine, but is intended to maintain and protect the original shine. This can be purchased from most Home Centers or through your local Professional Floor Covering Dealer.
Heavy-Duty Natural Stone Floor & Tile Cleaning
When some areas have been neglected, you will need to use a heavy-duty non-hazardous and non-polluting stone cleaner and degreaser to effectively remove dirt, grease, grime, waxes and floor finishes. An optimal heavy-duty cleaner should contain low percentages of volatile organic compounds. These cleaning products are concentrated and designed to deep clean the stone without damaging it. Apply the solution of the cleaner and water mixed to manufacturer instructions to the stone surface with a sponge or mop. Allow setting for manufacturer-specified amount of time. Agitate with a sponge, synthetic mop, and soft bristle brush or through the use of a floor-scrubbing machine. Mop up dirty solution and buff dry. Be sure to change out the cleaning solution every 100 square feet to avoid reintroducing dirty water during the cleaning process. Rinse thoroughly with clean water when finished. After cleaning you may apply the Spray-Buff wax-type floor finish to enhance the natural shine.
Floor Tile Stain Removal
Stone poultice will remove stains and grout haze from stone. Poultice is a fine, nonacidic, absorptive clay cleaning powder that removes deep-set oil stains, grease and light cementitious grout haze from polished and unpolished natural stone.
CAUTION: Poultice may dull the shine of the polished stone. If this occurs you will need to use a marble polish to restore the natural shine.
Restoration of Floor Tiles
If a marble finish has become dull, scratched or etched, you can restore the natural shine through the use of a marble polish. Some marble polishes are available in kits. The process can be enhanced with the use of floor buffing machines. The process is generally a re-crystallization process to remove fine scratches and restore the original shine and polish to the stone. This is not an application of a topical sealer or wax to cover-up damaged or worn surfaces.